Final report from the 2009 Para-Archery World Championships.
Well, we’re home. The 2009 Para-Archery World Championships are done.
Canada had a good showing in spite of some challenges during the course of the week.
The Para-Archery website described the weather as being kind to the archers throughout most of the week. In respect to the wind the website is correct. However the heat and humidity was another thing entirely. With temperatures approaching or exceeding 30o C, clear skies, and the fact that archers in wheelchairs are expected to stay on the line (in the direct sunshine), the qualifying rounds were very tough on our archers. This was on top of the jet lag always present when at a competition half-way around the world. Two of our archers suffered from heat stroke. The hot and humid conditions also contributed to an infection in one of our archers which was treated by our team MD with the assistance of a Czech doctor. (One of the typical steps against heat stroke is to drink plenty of water, but the water provided was mineral water and was unpalatable to half the team. So we had to find a way to obtain water that all could drink.)
The organizing committee did a good job considering the limited amount of time they had to plan and execute such a large event. (There were 35 countries represented by almost 200 archers, with staff.) With so many people, the participants were scattered throughout the region. (The Canadians stayed in a nice hotel in the town of Podebrady, about 10 km away from the venue.) Which meant that transportation to and from the field was a hassle, but arrangements were made which were as good as possible.
Many of the volunteers spoke English as well as Czech, which was a huge help as Vladimir and Viera (who both speak Czech) were often occupied in other areas of the field.
A typical day began with breakfast at 6:45, which meant that some of our guys were waking up at 5:00 to have enough time to be ready for breakfast. The bus left for the venue at 7:30, arriving with just enough time to get equipment ready for official practice. Then half the team shot ‘til noon when we broke for lunch. The other half of the team shot all afternoon, finishing just in time to return the equipment to the storage room and run for the bus. Then dinner followed by team meetings. After the meetings, there was time to receive/perform therapy on the archers or take a walk and roll around the lovely town of Podebrady. Finally to bed to try to sleep the rest of the night.
This year’s team was a mixture of experienced and naïve members:
Kevin Evens, Bob Hudson, and Rob Cox shot Men’s Compound Open.
Norbert Murphy shot W1 Recurve.
Lyn Tremblay shot W2 Recurve.
And our newest member, Karen Van Nest shot Women’s Compound Open.
Kevin Evens, Bob Hudson, and Rob Cox formed our team entry in the Compound Open team event. After getting off to a rocky start when one of the team members forgot to strap on his release-aid in the first end, the team soundly beat the team from Ukraine. Next up was Russia. The Russians were shooting well, and had a lead after two ends. We managed to pull our socks up and finished regulation with a tie. The first tie-breaker end was three arrows shot in one minute, and settled nothing. By the end of the first tie-breaker, both teams were tied. The second tie-breaker was the same format. This time, the Russians beat our score on their last arrow. From the amount of joy I saw in the Russian ranks with the win, I can only assume they feel about the Canadian team the way I do: We’re a very strong team and to win against us is quite an accomplishment.
Bob, Rob, Karen, and Lynn all shot well individually, but didn’t make it to the medal finals.
Kevin and Norbert shot for medals on Saturday.
Norbert Murphy is our most experienced archer. ‘Bert’s been to every World Championship since IPC started having them. Apparently the 7th time’s the charm as Norbert won the Bronze medal match. He was narrowly beaten by Jeff Fabry of the US in the Semi-Finals, and so shot for the Bronze instead of the Gold.
Kevin Evens defended his World Championship against an archer from the Ukraine. The Ukrainian shot beautifully, but couldn’t beat the World Champion from Cheong-ju. Kevin won his second consecutive World Championship.
Congratulations Kevin and Bert. Well shot.
As you look at the results page on the website, you may notice that the global talent is distributed over more countries in Para-Archery. I’m not sure why, but it makes for exciting competition across the board. The normal power houses are there (Korea, UK, US, etc) but they don’t dominate the competition as they do in able-bodied.
The other thing you may notice is that some of the scores are slightly lower than able bodied. I have been a Classifier for Archery for some years now; I place archers into their shooting classifications based on their ability. Over that time, I’ve come to appreciate that these archers are not just sitting in a chair, or leaning against a stool, or standing on a prosthetic leg, they are actually adapting to the absence of things able-bodied archers take for granted. Back tension is very hard to achieve when the muscles of the lumbar and thoracic areas are paralyzed. Even balance is difficult when the core muscles won’t respond, or the ground cannot be felt through a prosthetic leg. Imagine my respect for these archers when I see them beat my own scores when I shoot with all my faculties.
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